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A summary is a selection of main ideas. Summarizing reduces and rewords information providing an overview of the subject and also fostering close analysis of it. It does not leave out any important part of the main ideas, nor does it include any of the examples or illustrations. It is stated in the student’s own language, not the language of the original, though, of course, certain key terms must be repeated.

            The summary of a narrative or drama is usually called a plot summary. A plot summary may be sequential or comprehensive:

  1. A sequential plot summary follows the order in which a narrative or drama presents its main events.
  2. A comprehensive plot summary starts with an overall statement about the chief action of the narrative or drama and then gives the chain of events that make up that action. While a sequential plot summary recounts one event after another without saying which is the most important, a comprehensive plot summary identifies the central action to which all other actions must be referred.

The essence of summary is conciseness, objectivity, and completeness: you state in as few words as possible the main thrust of a passage. When you need to summarize a few paragraphs or a brief article, your summary should be no longer than one-fifth the length of the original passage.

      When writing your summary eliminate repetition and relatively minor points, provide transition. The final version should be a unified and coherent whole.


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